Deeply Problematic Newsletter: October 18, 2022
Laith Marouf redux; Brock U’s anti-oppressive stuffie; married to a gender cultist; (equine) fake news at CBC; Vancouver’s problematic BIPOC mayor; Halloween tips from Ontario school boards; and more
Canadian media shocked—shocked!—by depth of Laith Marouf fiasco
By now, most readers will be aware of the scandal surrounding Laith Marouf—the Beirut-resident Syrian-Canadian antisemite who milked the CRTC and Heritage Canada’s “anti-racism” program to the total tune of over half a million dollars, all while making grotesque public pronouncements about Jews, French-Canadians, and Americans. I published a full run-down on the scandal at Quillette back in late August.
L’affaire Marouf is obviously an embarrassment for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, whose vaunted “Anti-Racism Action Program” has been exposed as an incompetently administered slush fund: As is now being reported, everyone on up to the Prime Minister himself knew that Marouf’s corporate alter-ego remained on the government payroll for a full month before his government contract was severed. But the claim that Trudeau didn’t act on the Marouf disclosures in timely fashion can equally be applied to the media itself—including those same journalists who are now busily roasting Trudeau for his inaction.
I am referring specifically to the week-long period in early August when Marouf’s story was going viral on social media and in independent outlets, yet was shunned by the Ottawa press gallery. And even when the dam did break on August 19, all we initially got was a Canadian Press story structured around an upbeat description of Hussen “taking action” and “looking closely at the situation.” The thing read more like an exercise in Liberal damage control than an independent journalistic account. As I wrote in Quillette two months ago:
[Telecommunications consultant Mark] Goldberg has been publicly ringing alarm bells over [Marouf] since April, and raised the issue directly with Liberal MP Anthony Housefather [in July]. Housefather responded on July 19, telling Goldberg that the issue had been flagged to [Ahmed Hussen, Trudeau’s Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion] and his team, and that Hussen “will get back to me.” Yet it was only a month later, on August 21, once I’d been signal-boosting Goldberg’s research for a week, that anyone in government deigned to acknowledged that they’d effectively put a lifelong Jew-hater on the government’s anti-racism payroll. And even then, Hussen declined to include Marouf’s name in his initial statement.
I really doubt that anyone in Trudeau’s government will pay any kind of price for this. But at the very least, perhaps the scandal will discourage the Liberals from continuing to shovel out cash in the name of “anti-racism.”
Married to a born-again gender cultist
This week, I published a review of 18 Months, Shannon Thrace’s outstanding new book about her 14-year marriage to a formerly loving man who abruptly began self-identifying as a stunningly narcissistic woman. It’s a sad story in the way that all tales of collapsing marriages are sad. But there’s also an additionally maddening element, which is tied to the current ideological climate: “Jamie” continually weaponizes his gender dysphoria in a way that allows him to endlessly play victim, excuse selfish behaviour, and gaslight Shannon into thinking that she’s the unreasonable one.
Here’s an excerpt from my review:
Eventually, Jamie remakes not only his appearance, but also his past. He announces that he’d known he was female-spirited since the age of four. An oft-told story about a childhood brush with an abusive Boy Scout field-trip chaperone is rewritten to the effect that “it happened because I was seen as a girl.” Following an airport security search that’s conducted respectfully by well-trained staff, Jamie starts claiming he was transphobically harassed.
Jamie also rewrites his sex life, now claiming that his gender identity has nothing to do with sexual appetites. Unable to bite her tongue at this whopper, Shannon reminds Jamie of his requests to be demeaned as a “tranny” during sex, his inability to perform sexually unless he presents as a woman with a vagina while Shannon pretends to be a man with a penis, and, especially, his penchant for trans-themed porn—to which Jamie replies, without a hint of irony, “I was trying to find people like myself represented in the media.”
Lies, distortions, and selective memory are features of many disintegrating relationships, of course. But the style of conflict that Shannon describes seems uniquely toxic, since gender theory allows Jamie to cynically escalate even the most mundane disagreement into preposterous accusations of transphobic bigotry. And if that trick doesn’t work, he simply flees Shannon’s company altogether in a great flourish of tears, on the claim that her words are making him feel “unsafe.” As anyone who’s followed this issue on Twitter might have predicted, Jamie sometimes plays the suicidal-ideation card as well.
All of this gaslighting works on Shannon—at least for a while—because she has no one to talk with candidly about her pain. “You tell me you’re sad. I tell you I’m sad, too,” she writes (using “you” as a stand-in for Jamie). “[But] everyone considers your sadness an important civil rights issue, [while] no one gives a shit about mine.”
You can read the rest over at Quillette.
Brock University has convened a research team to name a stuffed animal
From Brock News: “A new research project is underway to name Brock’s Spirit Bear, meant to help further efforts of decolonization and reconciliation.” To be clear, this is not a real bear, but an ordinary stuffed animal. Here’s a picture:
I need scarcely add that the university’s Acting Vice-Provost for Indigenous Engagement, Robyn Bourgeois, is at the centre of things here. She even gets to hold the stuffed animal during public ceremonies!
If you recognize Bourgeois’ name, it’s because she’s been the star of several tragicomic scandals at Brock, which I’ve reported on here, here, and here. Because she’s an Indigenous academic who’s made herself Brock’s garment-render-in-chief on the reconciliation file, however, she seems to be untouchable: I’ve been told by a prof at Brock that her “Acting” vice-provost status will likely soon turn into a permanent appointment.
She’s now making $157K per year, about $50K more than when she got as a mere professor. Not to mention all the selfies with the stuffie.
Fake news at the CBC—this time on four legs
Over the last few years, the CBC has created a slew of new journalistic shows that cater to black, Indigenous, multicultural, and LGBT audiences. Which is fine, of course. What is not so fine is that many of these brands have an explicitly activist mandate, which rather casts doubt on their ability to serve up objective reporting. To take one example: the logo of CBC’s Being Black in Canada project, conceived in 2020, a few weeks after the murder of George Floyd, is a bunch of raised fists.
Then there’s Unreserved, the CBC’s “radio space for Indigenous voices—our cousins, our aunties, our elders, our heroes…Together, we learn and unlearn, laugh and become gentler in all our relations.” It’s a show that showcases the beliefs and lore of Indigenous communities. Again, that’s fine—except to such extent that those beliefs and lore prove to be untrue. Like this week, for instance.
On October 15, Unreserved published a story about the Lac La Croix Indian Pony, also known as the Ojibwe horse, a small North American pony breed that became beloved by Indigenous communities. According to the CBC headline, the Ojibwe horse “lived around [the] Great Lakes long before European contact.” The article informs us that “DNA testing shows that they are a separate breed from the horses introduced to North America by Europeans, according to the Ojibwe Horse Society,” and that they were hunted by cruel Europeans who found them to be a “nuissance.”
Great story, but most of it isn’t true.
Horses did roam much of North America for about 4-million years, but they were completely annihilated about 10,000 years ago, likely because the ancestors of today’s Indigenous peoples killed them off (though it should be said that climate factors are also thought to have had an impact). Spanish invaders brought European horses over in the 15th-century, a bunch of them eventually escaped, and they spread northward throughout the American wilds. The genetics of North American horse populations have been studied closely by scientists, with one research team concluding that the Ojibwe horse is likely a cross between a (Spanish-descended) Mustang and descendants of “draft breeds such as the Belgian, Clydesdale, and Percheron.” The claim that the Ojibwe horse (or any horse) lived near the Great Lakes “long before European contact,” on the other hand, is flat out wrong.
All of this was pointed out to the CBC days ago, but no correction has yet been issued. And if you read the whole article, it’s easy to see why they’re hesitant to act. The idea that these ponies are indigenous to (pre-European-contact) North America isn’t an incidental grace note to the article: It’s at the heart of the piece, which sentimentally presents the horses as kindred Indigenous spirits, targeted and brutalized by the same evil European invaders who brutalized Indigenous people. To admit that these horses actually originate with Europeans themselves kills the whole human-horse-solidarity undertone of the story. To correct this article would basically be to retract it.
Personally, I don’t care whether some people (Indigenous or otherwise) choose to believe, as a matter of faith, in the existence of pre-European Ojibwe horses. It’s a harmless fantasy. But CBC journalists aren’t supposed to trade in matters of faith and pseudoscience. They’re supposed to be giving us news.
According to CBC News Editor-in-Chief Brodie Fenlon, in fact, the CBC’s “high journalistic standards obligate us to acknowledge and correct any errors we make in our work. We do so with full transparency.” But in this case, I’m not holding my breath. It seems that the Canadian media has a very hard time fact-checking fashionable-but-false claims related to the Indigenous file. And this is but one more example to add to the list.
Vancouver wokesters slam new BIPOC mayor as wrong kind of BIPOC
In Vancouver’s October 15 municipal election, voters tossed out a privileged central-casting male WASP named Kennedy Stewart in favour of a sensible-seeming Chinese-Canadian political newcomer named Ken Sim. Great news, right? Out with the oppressive whiteness and in with the BIPOC-itude!
Well if that’s what you think, then you don’t understand intersectional anti-oppression. Here’s our friend @DaniAtomicus to explain:
The back story here is that Stewart, though whiter than white, is an absolutely down-the-line dogmatic hashtag progressive (not to mention environmental protestor), while Sim ran on a centrist campaign that included pushing police to actually enforce the law in Vancouver’s increasingly lawless high-crime neighbourhoods. (I know—crazy, right?) In west-coast progressive Neverland, that makes Sim one of those fascistic Whiteness Quislings who “uphold[s] white supremacy” and “colonial structures.”
This has become a recurrent pattern in Canadian politics. In the Waterloo Region District School Board trustee election, for instance, the focus of local social-justice cadres’ ire has been the region’s only black school trustee, a guy named Mike Ramsay. Their hero is Ramsay’s (extremely white) nemesis, Scott Piatkowski. Jonathan Bradley of the Western Standard has written up part of that saga here.
p.s. Vancouver is a “police state” now. Who knew?
p.p.s. The real losers? Asian mixed race queer women who charge $5,000 to help you find your “queer strength,” of course:
The Freedom Convoy and its fallout
The latest Quillette podcast, published last week, features my interview with journalist Andrew Lawton. We talk about his new Sutherland House book, The Freedom Convoy: The Inside Story of Three Weeks that Shook the World. I enjoyed the book, and our conversation as well.
Halloween: A time when children joyously demonstrate that they are “inclusive of all stakeholders”
Happy Halloween, kids! But remember: Before settling on your costume, don’t forget to stare in the mirror, think about anti-racism, and “reflect” on a set of six essay questions (depicted above) provided by Ontario’s Durham District School Board:
Elsewhere in Ontario, the Halton District School Board wants kids to know that they should definitely not be wearing oversized fake breasts as part of their costumes. That kind of “gender expression” is reserved for male shop teachers.
Oh, and in related news from yet another Ontario school board, Crazy Hair Day is now officially racist.
By now, there are too many woke-school-board-gone-amok stories in Ontario to properly track. And I know a fair number of conservatives and centrists who think that the upcoming October 24 school-board elections will be a good chance to clean house. But I’m pessimistic about that for a few reasons. Firstly, when it comes to school board elections, voter information tends to be low, with many people just picking the name they recognize—and that’s usually the incumbent, or the only person who bothered knocking on their door during the campaign. Moreover, everyone from local activists to Ben & Jerry’s are doing the best to smear any kind of school-board reform campaign as a mask for white supremacy.
The media has also roused itself to defend beleaguered ultra-progressives—as in the Waterloo Region, where the Globe & Mail just ran a love letter to incumbent education director jeewan chanicka (sic), a guy who (and I am not making this up) “spells his name with lower-case letters because he identifies with his Polynesian Indigenous spirituality and says that he doesn’t give more importance to himself than his surroundings, including animals, bodies of water and trees.” At his Toronto school-board gig, the guy made over $170K, which is considerably more than is earned by “animals, bodies of water and trees.” But I’m sure he has a good explanation.
On the other hand, it might be a blessing in disguise if reformers have to wait another election cycle to turf the Scott P./jeewan c. crowd. The school boards are now full of fed up dissidents and moles, who regularly send me and other journalists materials detailing the extent to which in-house social-justice extremists have taken over school-board policy. Having Scott and Jeewan—sorry, I mean jeewan—flounder around under close public scrutiny for another few years won’t be good for schoolkids. But it will go a long way toward permanently discrediting their movement.
Oh, and one more kicker: this mass mailing from Ottawa’s school board. Not creepy at all, right?
Greatest. Land Acknowledgement. Ever.
Like all great specimens of the genre, it’s basically one long sanctimonious brag, reeking of privilege, masquerading as humility.
Also in the same category, this guy:
Thoughts on The Cleve
Final note: I have two Substacks. This is one of them. The other one, Let’s get Board, is dedicated to board gaming. And if that’s your thing, you’re not going to want to miss my review of ASLOK 2022 in Cleveland!
I would be OK with land acknowledgments if people said, “We recognize that we are on the unceded territories of ____, and we have no intention of ever giving them back or of compensating ____ in any way other than this acknowledgement.”
Lol. I had to take some stupid Social Justice course with Farha Shariff for my Ed degree a few years ago. She is insufferable, but manipulates 19 year olds into activism.
Needless to say, my degree sits unused.